FSI replacement: Stakeholder group moots building potential as development tool

As the BMC chalks out the city’s land use plan in its Mumbai Development Plan,an expert stakeholder’s group has suggested that the concept of building potential should replace the FSI policy that currently controls constructions in the city.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published:February 16, 2012 5:15 am

As the BMC chalks out the city’s land use plan in its Mumbai Development Plan (DP 2014-’34),an expert stakeholder’s group has suggested that the concept of building potential should replace the FSI policy that currently controls constructions in the city. The stakeholder group formed by the research organisation Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI) had recently met with BMC officials working on the preparation of DP to discuss ten core areas that have to be addressed within the framework of the revised DP.

The building potential would be the amount of construction that could be allowed in a location depending on its use,infrastructure and amenities. This would be a more variable development tool as opposed to FSI that is uniform throughout the city and the suburbs and is often abused by those in power to grant additional FSI (Floor Space Index) as an incentive in specific cases.

“The building potential of an area,which would depend on the infrastructure and other factors,can be more in some place and less in others,” said Anirudh Paul,director,Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies. Talking at a DP workshop held here jointly with the Harvard Graduate School of Design on Wednesday,Paul who heads the urban reform group of the UDRI panel pointed out that if a locality is not suited for more construction,the landowners can be compensated through grant of Transfer of Development Rights (TDR or floating FSI).

In its meeting with the BMC’s core DP group,the UDRI panel had suggested that FSI as a planning tool should be replaced by other form of controls that are based on form,height and density. While Development Control Regulations (DCR) have been drafted for heritage precincts,the UDRI panel will now work on drafting similar DCR for non-heritage neighbourhoods and informal settlements.

The ten core areas based on which the stakeholder group has framed its planning principles for the revised DP include education,health,water,housing,livelihood,energy,environment,transport,governance and urban form. The ten groups have so far held more than 40 meetings to bring about greater public participation in the drafting of the DP.

“There is a belief that too much of democracy is not good. Accordingly,most government plans are not made public unless it is finalised. It is only at this stage that suggestions and objections are called for,which doesn’t really make the process participatory,” said Amita Bhide of the School of Urban Habitat,Tata Institute of Social Sciences. She added that a main challenge that a truly inclusive DP will have to encounter would be addressing the issue of incomplete citizenship. “In our study of M East ward,we realised that while 85 per cent of its residents live in slums,the DP caters to the remaining 15 per cent.”

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